Prouder than ever

So last night Nick & I took Beau and Georgie to the Auckland Pride Parade 2018. As an NZ Celebrant I marched with my friends the Glitter Squad – a group of amazing people from all around New Zealand who are licensed to wed, and stand to #marryallthepeople. Because #loveislove.

The Glitter Squad were there to celebrate love, and did so by marrying a couple (Victoria and Sinead) right then and there DURING THE PARADE! An Australasian first – which I was beyond proud to be a part of. Laura Giddey was the one to officiate things (who, by the by, is also our very own Mary Poppins – having recently babysat Beau and Georgie so Nick and I could go see Robbie Williams, and succeeding in having them both sound asleep all night long! What a bloody legend all round!) – it was all such a pleasure to witness and so exciting to be there.

But I’m not going to lie to you – taking a 3 year old and a 5 month old to an inner city parade that starts at 7.30pm was NOT easy! In fact, right before the parade started and I realised Georgie was not going to sleep in her stroller (as I had so hopefully expected!), I was a split second away from asking Nick if we could turn around and go home… but then the Air Force Hercules did it’s fly-past to kick off the parade and I caught a glimpse of Beau’s face – so full of awe and excitement and joy – that I remembered why it was so important for me to be there, with them.

For Beau and Georgie, who were born after 2013, they will always have lived in a country with marriage equality. A place where love is love. They may not even recognise ‘same sex marriage’… because, to them, it has always been just marriage. This makes me prouder than ever.

So I forgot about my awkwardness, my tiredness, my unfitness, my too-fat-to-fit-my-clothes-ness – and instead was surrounded by all the love, the excitement, the fun… and the pride. Just as I had intended to be.

Poor old Georgie didn’t sleep until we got back to the car at 9.30pm… she was so beyond exhausted and we ended up having a restless night with her because of it. She hadn’t cried during the parade, else we would have found a way to get out and leave early, but she did lose it on the final block back to the car… with an aching body and sore feet, already past my own bedtime, I felt as though we probably did her wrong. But she had been held close, was warm and safe, I breastfed when she needed it, and during the parade she had been in as much awe as her brother – who had taken it all in his stride, including the hustle and bustle walking alllll the way back to our parked car.

Sometimes parenthood is about pushing our boundaries, stepping out of our comfort zones, and introducing our children to the bigger world around them.

And sometimes it’s about staying home and wearing PJs and napping a lot – wish is sure as heck what we’ll be doing for the next few days!

Peace, love, and pride.

x Hayley

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That time we didn’t go camping

We were all packed ready to go! Everything had been checked off my list and neatly lined up in the garage, ready for the car; food items were in the fridge, ready for the chilly bin; phones and camera charging; little ones already sleeping… it was 11pm and finally we were crawling into bed ourselves.

We were feeling pretty tired, but so excited for the road-trip in the morning. I was looking forward to a few hours of music, chatting, scenery… followed by four days of living outdoors in the calming, soothing fresh air. Complete with forest walks, beach time, and sleeping under the stars…

… yeah. Come 2am we were up cleaning Georgie’s vomit from our bed for the second time. Nick was now making ominous groaning noises himself, and I had already thought to email the campground (in case they had a last minute enquiry in the morning – someone could take our spot).

Life with children. Plans often change!

Although, I have to say, this change in our plans wasn’t entirely unexpected. Beau had been vomiting earlier in the week, the weekend’s forecast was for stormy weather, and there was a sense of anxiety I couldn’t quite pin point. Perhaps I sensed the sickness looming, and worried about Nick and I being unwell in a tent, without a bathroom, three hours from home (grim). Perhaps we realised that the strong tide of the surf beach might not be the safest camping spot for us anymore, with an overly confident three year old who now likes to run straight into the water. Perhaps I’m simply too tired. Because the decision to stay home for the long weekend was not a difficult decision to make.

As much as I would love to be camping amongst the trees right now, running into the surf, and chatting into the dusk with friends – staying at home feels good. And I’m becoming much better at listening to that inner voice and separating what I want to do, with what I am able.

There will be so many other opportunities to go camping – and we’ll take them. But for now – here’s to a restful long weekend at home. And how many opportunities do we get to do that?

Maybe we’ll take a trip to a local beach; maybe we’ll take Beau on the long promised trip into the City to go up the Sky Tower; or maybe we’ll do nothing at all.

How beautiful it is to do nothing, and then rest afterward. Spanish Proverb.

Have a soulful long weekend, friends

x Hayley

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5 reasons to go camping with kids

As the rain gently falls on my office window, I can hear the sounds of ‘bath-time’ coming from upstairs, and I appreciate this half hour I have to myself.

We’re going camping in just under two weeks time – so I’m going to make a start on our packing list, and am hoping that the sunshine we’ve been enjoying makes a return for when it’s time to go!

A few people have said to me ‘you’re brave going camping with a baby!’ Now, call me crazy, but I’m here to tell you that camping with young children is actually the most delightful thing to do! You just need to be organised and well prepared. (And there’ll be no talk of minimalism here – you’re going to want to take everything AND the kitchen sink!) There truly is nothing better than sleeping outdoors, waking up with the sun, and eating pancakes cooked on the camp BBQ. Days of walking through the forest to the beach, lounging around your campsite reading books or playing games, smelling the sausages sizzling come tea-time, and gazing at the stars once the little ones crash after all that fresh air.

The first time we went camping as a family was when Beau was a one year old – we went to the Prana New Year Festival and he absolutely loved every minute of it, as did we. He’s three now and we’ve been camping a further three times since, including to a site right next to a stream last summer. My expectation is that camping with a 5 month old baby (who doesn’t crawl yet) and a three year old (who is now more trust-worthy in terms of not running off, or randomly wanting to get into everything – aka other peoples’ tents!) will actually be even more enjoyable. I shall report back accordingly!

These are my top five reasons why camping with young children is a must do:

  1. It’s cheap! Our 3 night stay for the 4 of us, with a powered site, is costing $160. The campground has flushing toilets, hot showers, and a kitchen if you don’t want to take your own camping stove/bbq. You camp in a clearing by the forest, and walk through the trees to the most beautiful beach. It feels a lot further than a 2.5 hour drive from home and there is nothing else you could possibly need in order to have a lovely family holiday – trees, beach, campsite, you’re set. The only additional costs are your petrol getting there and the food you’ll eat. But you’d be eating if you were at home anyway, so… it’s a 4 day summer holiday for $160.
  2. It’s an adventure! Sleeping outdoors; setting up a cosy home in a tent; snuggling in sleeping bags; reading books until the light runs out; waking with the sun and getting to the beach as it’s still rising; collecting shells and pine cones and leaves and sticks and making artworks; hanging towels and togs on any piece of rope or tree branch that’s available – ready for them to dry and be used again; hearing the sound of the birds around you and becoming familiar with their rhythm; waking with the smell of the beach still on your sun kissed skin…
  3. It’s good for the soul. Being somewhere with limited cellphone coverage, and no need to do anything other than relax, is undoubtedly good for the soul. There’re no screens, no to do list, no schedule, no where to be by a certain time, no sense of time at all – beyond waking with the sun and going to bed when it sets… You’re more in tune with your own natural rhythms – more aware of when you need to sleep, or eat, or move, or rest. And the little ones are just the same. They are more relaxed, because you are more relaxed. Everyone is less grizzly and more settled – because we’re all together, and it feels deliciously calm and soothing. The rustles of the trees, the chirping of the birds, the distant lull of the oceans waves, a monarch butterfly bobbing by, the changing shapes of the clouds, the gradual shift of the trees shadow… it’s a slow and deliberate time together.
  4. It’s bonding. It’s really lovely all working together on the simplest of tasks – whether it’s pegging down the tent, or blowing up the air beds, or washing the dishes in a bucket, there’s a task for everyone and even the smallest of hands can help. Then there’s the family shower trip at the end of the day’s adventures, all meandering through the campgrounds with wash-bags and bath towels and returning to the tent clean and fresh, ready for PJs and sleeping bags and stories. There’s the closeness of sleep, with the comfort of each others proximity, and the shared breakfasts in the morning – complete with jumpers over PJs and no where else to be but together. It’s just a lovely time of togetherness.
  5. Because why wouldn’t you?! If you wait for the right time, the right age, the right weather… you’ll never go. Obviously if you don’t enjoy camping in the first place, then maybe don’t go with young children. But if you love camping and would love to take your children along, then my number one reason to go is exactly that.

Just be organised and go prepared – for rain or shine – and I promise you won’t regret it. (I’ll share our lengthy packing list, once it’s compiled!)

Do you go camping with your little ones? What are some of your top tips?

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this place we call home

I’m not from this place. But it is the place which welcomed me in, called me one of its own, and now the place I call home.

Beautiful, pretty, Auckland City.

I feel fortunate to live here; when I think of Auckland I think of leafy Cornwall Park, of trendy inner city foodie stops, of Sunday farmers markets, of the glistening blue waters as you cruise to Waiheke, of the calm beaches as you head north, of flat whites and brunches, of the dense green bush as you head west, and the art that comes alive when the sun goes down.

For me there has been theatre, partying with friends, uni days, poetry nights, dancing in the city, and walking along beaches. I’ve swam in the ocean, climbed volcanoes, been to yoga and had brunch. I fell in love here. I had two babies.

Since 2014 I’ve been a Wedding Celebrant and not only have I met some of the most interesting and loveliest of people – I’ve been fortunate to spend time in some of the most stunning locations Auckland has to offer. From the beaches and vineyards of Waiheke Island; to the cocktail bars of the inner City; as far south as lush green Glenbrook; to the East at Musick Point, overlooking the boats in the blue bays; there’s been the rolling countryside to the north – from Riverhead, to Kumeu, onto Puhoi, and as far as Matakana; to the festival beachy vibe of Piha, out West; and into many a family home – always with an open door and open arms for me – smiling faces who invite me into their lives to officiate and celebrate their unions, surrounded by their families and friends.

I’m proud of this place I call home. On Sundays, my little family and I take the time to enjoy it. We drive and catch up with conversation whilst the little ones nap, or we’ll sing music with the windows down whilst they are both awake – driving over the Harbour Bridge, pointing out the sailing boats and the Sky Tower, protruding from the central city. We find ourselves at a beach or a park and we roll out the picnic rugs, pull out the picnic hamper, and lay down to gaze at the sky.

I’m on the other side of the earth from where I once called home, and I welcome future travels in my life, but right now there is no where else I’d rather be. Auckland. This place we call home.

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S U M M E R  B U C K E T  L I S T

It was a long winter in the Greer household – with me waddling around heavily pregnant, desperately trying to savour the last of my days with ‘just Beau’ (which in reality turned out to be  a lot of snuggling, watching TV, reading books, and visiting cafes for fluffy milk and allthefoodsplease).

And then Georgie was born on the third day of spring – almost two weeks passed her expected due date, as though she was clinging onto her warm cocoon, not at all interested in being born until the weather improved.

And now… we are just 6 days away from the summer-time! Spring – and Georgie’s glorious fourth trimester – is almost over, already.

I intend to write more about her fourth trimester, our wonderful babymoon, and prioritising the adjustment into a family-of-four… but today I want to share with you our S U M M E R  B U C K E T  L I S T ! Because priorities!

I made a decision recently that I need to prioritise what matters most to me, above anything else – and that is quality time with my family, getting out into nature, and having bucket-loads of fun together.

On one particularly long afternoon of cluster-feeding, when Georgie was just born… and I had just finished reading Constance Hall’s book ‘Like a Queen,’ feeling inspired by her discussion around surrender and choosing joy with her children over literally anything else… I got out a pen and a piece of paper.

Right in the centre of this piece of paper, I scrawled “summer bucket list” and drew a cloud shape around it. And, when Nick got home that evening, we listed all the things that came to mind in anticipation of our summer-time with the children. Not a list of things we should do, but a list of the things we could do.

So I stuck this piece of paper under a magnet on the fridge, replacing the list of housework formerly there, and it’s a daily reminder to me to embrace the things I most enjoy doing.

Our weeks are pretty full on – just as yours would be – Nick runs his own Building & Project Management company, often working 12 hour days, and I’m full-time mother to an active preschooler and a breastfed baby. Saturdays come and are a flurry of errands, and housework, and catch ups, and each getting a bit of time for ourselves. But then – Sundays.

Sundays are our family days. Our no work, no commitments, no plans days. We avoid sharing these days with others, cherishing the time as just the four of us. Sundays are our bucket list days. The mornings are for having fun, getting out and doing things we really enjoy – maybe there’ll be a long car journey for the little ones to nap, a place to easily push a stroller, lots of trees and wide open spaces, a picnic to enjoy, and blue summer skies. And then the afternoons are reserved for relaxing – watching TV or a film, reading books, figuring out whose turn it is to mold play dough or build duplo, and later on eating a favourite meal.

The best way to end and start any week. Fulfilled.

What would you put on your own summer bucket list? I’d love to know!

x Hayley

S U M M E R  B U C K E T  L I S T

  • Have a picnic in Cornwall Park
  • Smell the flowers in the Auckland Domain
  • Meet the animals at Auckland Zoo
  • Go for a trip on the Glenbrook Railway
  • Try new foods at the Clevedon Farmers Market
  • Pick strawberries in Kumeu – starts here after Christmas
  • Go on beach trips – to Long Bay, Omaha, Pakiri…
  • Camping in the Coromandel – toast marshmallows!
  • Discover local walkways & playgrounds – buggy-friendly Auckland here
  • Garden fun – paddling pool, sand tray, BBQs + homemade popsicles (try thisthis or this)
  • Water fun at the Albany stadium childrens’ pools (tip: go early!)
  • Go up the Sky Tower on a City trip
  • Catch the ferry to Waiheke Island
  • Build forts on rainy days
  • Walk around Lake Pupuke
  • Walk through Shakespear Regional Park
  • Kids Kingdom, to celebrate Beau starting preschool.
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Merry Christmas, Beau

Dear baby

It feels so surreal calling you that, now – as you most certainly are not a baby anymore! You are a fully fledged little boy – with your own mind and your own heart – growing more and more every day. But you will forever be my little one.

Today is Christmas Eve and I wanted to start a new tradition for you – I hope to write to you every year, on the night before Christmas. I want it to become something which I can someday gift to you – memories from your childhood.

I have my own childhood memories of Christmas-time. And they are magical. I can still remember the smell of the tinsel coming down from the attic. I can hear the score of Raymond Briggs’ The Snowman. And I can taste my Nana’s homemade lemon curd tarts.

And now we’re creating memories for you. Details in your own story, for you to carry with you throughout the years.

This morning we went downtown to the Auckland Fish Market, and you helped us select the best crayfish and prawns for our Christmas Eve dinner – which your daddy then cooked on the barbecue and we ate with our bare hands whilst drinking ginger beer. We watched The Snowman, from my own childhood, snuggled together on the sofa eating mini mince pies and soothing one another when he melts at the end. And before you had your evening bath, we hung an old copper key outside the back door – so Santa can get in, once we are sleeping.

Maybe it’s a key you will someday give to your own children.

Maybe someday you’ll be reasuring them, that the snowman will be built again next year.

I am so excited for tomorrow, my Beau – for you to wake up and call out to us, and for you to run into the living room and see the pile of presents there – just for you.

Tomorrow you will be two years and three months old, and it will be your 3rd Christmas. But it’s the very first Christmas that you will really understand. And I want the whole day to be as magical for you, as all the other days of the year are for me. I want you to know how loved and cherished you are. How much you deserve to be given special things. Because you are a very special thing. You bring a joy to our lives that I simply cannot express.

A few weeks ago – rather fortuitously – you lost your football. So I leaped on the opportunity and told you that ‘perhaps we will ask Santa if you may have a new one?’ I told you what a good boy you had been all year long, and how I am sure Santa would want to gift one for you.

Daddy took you to the Orewa Beach Santa Parade, one Saturday when I was working – and he told me that you stared at Santa in awe, whispering as his float moved away, ‘please can I have a new football, Santa?’

And then we took you to Snow Planet in Silverdale, where your daddy had built Santa’s Grotto at the top of the ski slope. And Santa was there. You went straight up to him, and said hello. Smiling from cheek to cheek. ‘Beau!’ you told him, when he asked your name. And ‘a new football, please,’ is what you replied when he asked. You walked over to the fireplace with him, and he was saying things to you – but I don’t know what they were. They were just for you, from Santa.

At every opportunity since, you’ve reminded me that Santa will bring you a new football. And my baby, he will. You will have a sackful of wonderful gifts, and a brand new football will be sitting right at the top. Nothing will make me happier tomorrow, than seeing your recognition and delight.

So sleep tight, my little one. By the time you are reading this letter you will be much grown – but right now you are my little angel, my darling boy who is still so little and precious, if no longer a baby. And all the magic in the world is about to unfold before you.

I lay with you as you fell asleep – and all the magic in the world was there before me.

Your loving and forever grateful,

Mumma xx

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SCENES // road-trip

A wintry weekend spent in Rotorua: Car trip, sunset, hot-tub and cuddles. Frosty mornings, animals, and jumping in puddles. Green, green grass; picnics and slides. Fluffy and cake when it’s cold outside. Climbing through trees and warm redwood light. Travels with you and the world feels right…

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SCENES // seaside

Sundays spent by the seaside. Collecting rocks and pretty shells. Digging sand. Chasing gulls. Flappy wings… not a fan. The air whips through our hair, blowing cobwebs away. The winter sun is low in the sky, sparkling on the waves. Nana comes – running with wide open arms. Poppa too. Walking, picnicking on the tartan rug. Egg sandwiches. Shoo birds. Go-way. Mumma has to leave early for a rescheduled appointment. How I would much rather stay with my boys, building castles by the sea.

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